April 3, 2014 |

Grace: To sense more deeply the possibility of deep renewal and reform in my life and the desire in God’s heart for that renewal in me.

Text for Prayer: Lk. 9:23-36

Reflection: Over the last few weeks I have given a couple of retreats that dealt in some ways with discernment. During these retreats, I had the opportunity to chat with most of the participants. Many of them pointed out that in terms of remaining faithful to their prayer life, they sometimes lack discipline and willpower, and I often acknowledged that discipline is a great avenue to renewal and reform.

Certainly discipline is an important part of discipleship. Both of those words, along with the word discernment come for the Latin word discere which means to learn. To grow as a disciple—in discipleship and discernment—we need to learn or to discover life-giving ways of finding the strength to remain faithful and committed to them.

Discipline comes with practice and desire to grow. When we have an encounter with the Crucified and Risen Lord, our hearts long for the vitality that will help us to be disciples. As we journey forward, we are exposed to many experiences, and we discover what works well and what does not. In that process, we develop the ability to judge well what sorts of things are life-giving and help us to grow. Sometimes we work this out through trial and error, by listening to the experiences of others, or by the insights and graces we receive in prayer.

In my own journey, there are a few things which have helped me to become more disciplined. Don’t get me wrong, I am not the poster-boy for discipline or discipleship, but I keep trying. I keep trying because I am hungry for more. I want to live life in abundance, as God invites us all to live it. So allow me to share a few of the things I have learned thus far about acquiring discipline and strengthening my own willpower for God’s service:

  1. Self-awareness: In this process, there is nothing more important than self-knowledge. Socrates put it plainly, “know thyself.” The more we know ourselves, the more we know the areas of our lives where we need to grow and where we need God’s grace.
  2. Sacraments: There isn’t a better way to grow than by becoming more like Christ. The more we celebrate the Sacraments, the more we allow God’s life to transform us. This strengthens our willpower and increases our desire to live well. The life we receive through the Sacraments helps us to restrain ourselves from the things that bring us down and builds us up into the sort of people Christ calls us to become.
  3. Companionship: We need healthy friendships and strong communities that encourage us in our path. In order to grow, we need our friends and out communities to keep us accountable and to help us remain resolute and determined in our journey. We require companions who help us curb our enthusiasm for base things and invite us to grow in faith, hope, and love. We need others who constantly pray for us and inspire us to grow.
  4. Drill/Work Out: One of the things that strengthens our willpower is exercise. This is true physically, mentally and spiritually. Our endurance, resistance and resilience grow as we exercise. Our hearts are enlivened as we experience the benefits or exercising our physical and spiritual muscles. When we enjoy the benefits of a good physical or spiritual work out, we grow in determination and will power. The more alive we feel, the less we desire to return to the sort of things that trip us up and make us stumble.

Christ invites us to grow in discipline, to discover new ways to live our life of discipleship. As we encounter him in daily life, our hearts will burn with passion, and that passion will renew us and give us the strength to reform our lives.

Questions: What are some small disciplines that I may undertake in order to grow in love and service of God? How can these disciplines prepare my heart to encounter Christ in my daily life?

April 3rd, 2014 | |